Facebook is the “Inadvertent” Business Network For Gen Y

Gen Yers aren’t specifically using Facebook for business, but with an average of 700 “friends” and a propensity to change jobs after two years, the lines between social and business are so blurred they aren’t even aware it’s happening.

Data out this morning from a study of Facebook’s Gen Y members (18-29) shows that, on average, each has 16 co-workers as friends. While the average is skewed by those who have many more, the study found that half have more than five workers as Facebook friends.

What’s the significance?

“When they go home,” says Gen Y branding guru Dan Schwabel, “they are still connected to the workplace… Their co-workers are their friends. And because people change jobs so often and have so many friends, their friends become co-workers.”

Ironically, Schwabel says, most Gen Yers aren’t intending for Facebook to be a business tool; 64 percent of them don’t bother to list a single employer in their profile.

That’s why, he says, Facebook is “inadvertently a part of their business life.”

His company, Millenial Branding, analyzed data from Identified.com uncovering the inadvertent consequence of friending co-workers. While BranchOut and Monster’s BeKnown are intentional business networks for Facebook users, at least for Gen Y business networking is occurring on the mainstage.

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Another key discovery, says Schwabel, is how few Gen Yers work at large companies. Only 7 percent of those listing a job currently work for a Fortune 500 firm.The largest share (7.2 percent) work in the hospitality and travel industry, and 2.9 percent give their job title as “server.”

However, ranking 5th among titles is “owner,” suggesting, says Schwabel, that Gen Y workers are entrepreneurial. For recruiters looking to hire Gen Yers, the implication is clear. “Large corporations need to rethink their corporate recruiting strategy,” he says. ” Companies have to be more flexible and give Gen Y more control over schedules, and their work.”

The best way to reach a Gen Yer, he says, is through their friends or by friending them directly. Don’t message them until you are a friend, he recommends. “They don’t think of Facebook that way.” Referrals by friends are the best way to reach out. “They trust their friends. They listen to their friends.”

Schwabel also had some counsel for his Gen Y peers — advice anyone with a workplace friend should keep in mind: “Be careful what (you) say. It could be the office gossip next morning.”

John Zappe is the editor of TLNT.com and a contributing editor of ERE.net. John was a newspaper reporter and editor until his geek gene lead him to launch his first website in 1994. He developed and managed online newspaper employment sites and sold advertising services to recruiters and employers. Before joining ERE Media in 2006, John was a senior consultant and analyst with Advanced Interactive Media and previously was Vice President of Digital Media for the Los Angeles Newspaper Group.

Besides writing for ERE, John consults with staffing firms and employment agencies, providing content and managing their social media programs. He also works with organizations and businesses to assist with audience development and marketing. In his spare time  he can be found hiking in the California mountains or competing in canine agility and obedience competitions.

You can contact him here.